Those lucky enough to get a catered chalet for themselves in the Alps this winter may well notice what I have. The free wine included in the deal is OK. Maybe it’s because the fresh air and the physical exertion makes me “need” the wine a little more – maybe it’s the romantic setting making me fall in love with the cheap duffer they have put in front of me – or maybe, just maybe, it’s just that the local wines are undiscovered heroes.
I’ll be first to admit I don’t know my alpine wine regions as much as I should but I can pick you some discovered heroes from Jura. Jura – that wine region you pass through on the Eurostar on the final part of your journey to the slopes. It’s between Burgundy and Switzerland. Like Burgundy, it specialises in Chardonnay and other robust grapes but its cooler, higher altitude climate leads to interesting variations and some iconic flavours.
Domaine De Savangny, Vine De Paille 2008
The best thing I tasted whilst judging the Wine Merchant Top 100 this year. Vine De Paille is a process known elsewhere as straw wine or raisin wine. The grapes are dried out for several months and then aged for 3 years in the bottle. My god it’s good! A caramel richness and a touch of fortified sherry on the scent, make it the wine you can’t take away from your nose. The caramel continues on the palate making it the prefect match for fois gras.
Domaine Désiré Petit, Savagnin ‘L’Essen’ciel’ 2013
One of those robust grapes I was talking about, it’s as if Savagnin was build to withstand this cold, high altitude climate. They are round and plump with thick skins, this allows them to be harvested late in the local season which, in turn, gives an amazing golden colour that has no right to match the delicate mineral, citrus flavours this wine gives off before the hit of the wood and liquorice on the finish. Try this with rich fish dishes or maybe an Eggs Benedict before you hit the slopes.